Desert Caballeros Western Museum

photos by John Hazeltine

Wickenburg, AZ



Hays "Spirit of the Cowboy" Collection


Take a step back in time to a day when "cowboying" was a way of rife. See the leather worn shiny with use and age, the patina of well loved silver and the rawhide lariats used to corral the wild mavericks of the range. Hays "Spirit of the Cowboy" Collection is now open at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, in Wickenburg, AZ., Arizona's most western museum.

Dating from the 1880's to recent times, Hays "Spirit of the Cowboy" Collection is one of the largest and finest selections of early working cowboy, prison made, wild west, movie, parade, and rodeo gear, ever to be opened to public view. The collection, consisting of nearly 600 artifacts, is on long term loan to Desert Caballeros Western Museum from the private collection of Abe and Lalla Hays of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Included in this exhibit you will find, saddles and spurs, hats and chaps, guns and gun leather, plus reatas, ropes, whips, bridles and bits, rodeo and Hollywood memorabilia and more. The gear is displayed against a rustic backdrop, including a line camp replica. This extraordinary assemblage of authentic working cowboy gear from all parts of the West highlights a classic form of western skill and industry: the leatherworking and metal smithing which produced the gear itself. Starting with Spanish and Mexican forms, craftsmen adapted gear designs to the work habits of American cowboys, and continually refined them for comfort and efficiency. What's more, gear makers developed distinctly American styles of design and decoration. Now icons in their own right, cowboy trappings have made a permanent contribution to the art of the West. (left: Artifacts in Photo: Hamley 128 World Championship Rodeo Trophy Saddle, Winchester M1866 Saddle Ring Carbine, Sioux Quill and Beaded Wild West Gauntlets, Texas Ranger Captain Frank Hamer's Colt Single Action M1873 Factory Nickled and Engraved .45 Revolver, F.A. Meanea Cartridge and Money Belt Gun Rig, G.S. Garcia Silver Snake Pattern Spade Bit, Visalia Silver and Gold Snake Pattern Spurs, Cowgirl Rodeo Boots, Al Furstnow Spotted Wooly Shotgun Chaps, Luis B. Ortega made and marked Rawhide Reata)

Desert Caballeros Western Museum's permanent collection of painting and sculpture with works by Remington, Russell, Catlin, Moran, and Beeler as well as other noted Western artists provides excellent supporting visuals of cowboys living and working the open range.

Read more about the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/27/10

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Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.